Andy Roberts

Nina and the Dream Tree

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AllMusic Review by

Andy Roberts' second album was similar to his worthy debut, Home Grown, in its agreeable brand of gentle British folk-rock, but also a departure in several notable respects. Most unusually, there were just five tracks this time around, although one of them ("25 Hours a Day/Breakdown/Welcome Home") was more a combination of songs than a completely separate entity. Also, there was more of a piano base that pushed the record a little away from standard British folk-rock and more toward the early-'70s singer/songwriter school. Some of the tunes, for instance, are reminiscent of Elton John's early work (though with a less strident, consciously pop air), parts of "Keep My Children Warm" and "Dream Tree Sequence" adding a muted gospel-soul feel in the backup vocals and arrangements. Sometimes the compositions do go on too long -- the closing "Dream Tree Sequence" lasts a good 15 minutes -- and "Good Time Charlie" is a fairly forgettable, you guessed it, good-time blues-folk-rocker. But at its best, as in the haunting "I've Seen the Movie," there's a delicate wistfulness that will spark unavoidable comparison to some of Iain Matthews' early work, particularly since Matthews and Roberts would soon team up in Plainsong. Roberts is perhaps too low-key to ever generate a wide cult following, but his early work deserves hearing by fans of the early-'70s British folk-rock/singer/songwriter crossover sound, this outing included.

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